Al Diaz aka Bomb 1’s career spans five decades. A prolific and influential first generation NYC subway graffiti artist, who later became a text-orientated street artist. He co-founded the mythical art duo SAMO© with the iconic Jean-Michel Basquiat.
The pair used the title, accompanied by short phrases, in turns poetic and sarcastic, spray painted on the streets of downtown Manhattan starting in 1977.
Art curator and critic Jeffrey Deitch called it “disjointed street poetry” and remembered that “back in the late seventies, you couldn’t go anywhere interesting in Lower Manhattan without noticing that someone named SAMO© had been there first.” One Basquiat biographer noted that "while some of the phrases might seem political, none of them were simple propaganda slogans. Some were outright surrealist or looked like fragments of poetry." Al recognized the original intelligence in their work: “The stuff you see on the subways now is inane. Scribbled. SAMO© was like a refresher course because there’s some kind of statement being made. It’s not just ego graffiti.” The project would cumulate in early 1980 with the final "SAMO© IS DEAD" tags being issued immediately before Basquiat shifted his focus towards canvases and gallery work, making it a pivotal point in the art world.
Diaz then went on to pursue other personal work and music, playing percussion on the seminal Basquiat produced Hip-Hop song "Beat Bop" by K-Rob and Rammellzee. He also played with influential No Wave bands KONK, Liquid Liquid, Dog Eat Dog, Elliot Sharp (ISM) Ivan Julian (of Richard Hell & the Voidoids) and Theoretical Girls.
After a thirty-five year hiatus, Diaz has triumphantly resurrected the SAMO@ moniker. 2017 will see an ongoing series of collaborations between Massachusetts based creative agency House of Roulx and SAMO©. The first project, a curated Instagram account, @samocopyrightdotdotdot, features photographs of all new SAMO© tags on and under the streets of New York City. The account offers the world a look at these otherwise localized and impermanent public works. In addition, it features new and exclusive original art on ceramic tile, paper, plexiglass and other mediums that will be collected for exhibit.
House of Roulx will release a series of never before published photographs of a teen aged Basquiat taken by Diaz in late 1976 when the pair first met as high school students at City-As-A-School in Brooklyn Heights. Diaz notes, “He [Basquiat] often wore a beret and held his pants up with rainbow suspenders - it was the ’70s. He was very independent.” The photographs, reproduced from Al’s personal scrapbook, showcase an intimate perspective of their relationship and feature Jean-Michel in his signature wardrobe. Fine art prints will be offered in limited editions signed and hand finished by Diaz as SAMO©. In addition, choice selections of all new original SAMO© artwork and merchandise will be available.